The critical role that in-house counsel can play at an Internet start-up company, a subsidiary of a larger corporate entity or at a business expanding overseas was the central theme yesterday at The Corporate Lawyering Conference.

The first conference of its kind, which was sponsored by a coalition of bar associations, business councils, law firms and the U.S. Department of Commerce, drew about 200 attorneys and entrepreneurs to the Plaza Hotel for a series of lectures and panel discussions on the nuts and bolts of corporate lawyering.